232-bed centre to close by next May, victim support cuts unlawful
Refugee Council welcomes closure of Campsfield House detention centre; Anti-Slavery International welcomes High Court decision on payments to trafficking victims
12 November 2018
The Refugee Council on Friday welcomed the Home office's announcement that the 232-bed Campsfield House immigration removal centre will close by May 2019.
According to the Home Office, the closure of Campsfield House is part of the Home Secretary's commitment to cut the number of people detained at any given time and improve the welfare of detainees in response to Stephen Shaw's review into welfare of vulnerable people in detention.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: "Now is the right time to modernise and rationalise the detention estate. We are committed to ensuring we have a fair and humane immigration system that provides control, and detention must only be used when we are confident no other approaches will work."
The Refugee Council said the closure was a significant step in the right direction towards the full implementation of the Shaw review.
"We warmly welcome the news today that Campsfield House immigration removal centre will close by May 2019. We are heartened that the Government is now listening to the concerns being raised by organisations and the people who have themselves experienced detention. Detention is extremely damaging to the lives of people seeking asylum, as well as costly and ineffective. Put simply, it should play no part in the asylum system," the Refugee Council's director of advocacy, Lisa Doyle, said.
The Home Office says it is aiming for a 40% reduction in the immigration detention estate by next summer compared with 2015.
In other news last week, Anti-Slavery International welcomed the High Court's judgment in K & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 2951 (Admin) which reversed the Home Office's decision to cut weekly support monies paid to asylum seeking victims of trafficking.
The Court found that the Home Office's decision to cut the weekly support for asylum seeking victims of trafficking from £65 per week to £37.75, without any consultation or assessment of the potential impact of such cuts on the victims, was unlawful.
Anti-Slavery International's Anna Sereni said: "It's a great win for victims of trafficking who are asylum seekers. Hopefully they will be able to breathe a bit more easily rather than worry what to put on their plates or how to access basic things such as healthcare or counselling.
"The cuts had a very adverse impact on the victims, ultimately increasing the risk of them being exploited again. One of the survivors in this case had been offered illegal work below the minimum wage and was considering it seriously, because he wasn't able to survive only with the support of the state.
"It is important to highlight a difficult environment that slavery victims operate in, where a bureaucratic system isn't supportive enough and responsive to their specific needs. We hope the Government will follow up on its commitment to support all slavery victims to fully recover from their ordeals."
Wilsons Solicitors, who represented the lead claimant, has more on the judgment here.